Teaching on the High Seas: How Field Research Enhances Teaching at All Levels

  • Ken C. Macdonald
Part of the Innovations in Science Education and Technology book series (ISET, volume 20)


Although teaching and research often compete with each other for the limited time a professor has, they can be mutually supportive as a teaching-research symbiosis. Especially for fields in which study of the natural environment is central, bringing research field experiences to the classroom and bringing students to the field creates a powerful symbiosis. For me, the field is the world’s oceans, mid-ocean ridges in particular. Even the majority of students, who were unable to go on research expeditions, were inspired by their peers’ experiences at sea. As research tools become more remote and abstract (such as ocean observatories and remotely operated vessels using “telepresence”), it is more important than ever for students to have seagoing opportunities on research expeditions. Whenever possible they should be able to participate in physical work on deck in addition to computer-based work.


Cascadia Subduction Zone Earth Science Department Ocean Observatory Vema Fracture Zone Seafloor Observatory 
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The US National Science Foundation and Office of Naval Research provided most of the funding for these research educational opportunities. Funding was also provided by the University of California Ship Fund (operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography) and UCSB Learning Resources and Instructional Development. Many people contributed greatly to these efforts, especially Rachel Haymon (who also taught seagoing courses at UCSB), Steve Miller, Jeff Fox, Antoinette Padgett, Kathy Carmel (Poole), and all of my former graduate and undergraduate students.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth Science and Marine Science InstituteUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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